The Photon Simulator (PhoSim) is a set of fast photon Monte Carlo codes used to calculate the physics of the atmosphere, telescope, and detector by using modern numerical techniques applied to comprehensive physical models. PhoSim generates images by collecting photons into pixels. The code takes the description of what astronomical objects are in the sky at a particular time (the instance catalog) as well as the description of the observing configuration (the operational parameters) and produces a realistic data stream of images that are similar to what a real telescope would produce. PhoSim was developed for large aperture wide field optical telescopes, such as the planned design of LSST. The initial version of the simulator also targeted the LSST telescope and camera design, but the code has since been broadened to include existing telescopes of a related nature. The atmospheric model, in particular, includes physical approximations that are limited to this general context.
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